What is mSATA SSD? Should you buy one?

When it comes to SSDs, we have a lot of options from ultra-fast NVMe based SSDs to still good performing and still reasonably fast SATA SSDs. Well, in fact, up with form factors, ranging from a stick of gum, up to a two and a half-inch sandwich. So, there’s an SSD really for anyone out there.

But the question is, are mSATA SSDs really actually worth it. Recently I picked up this guy, this Samsung 860 EVO SSD is one of the top mSATA SSDs out there.

Lots of people prefer to use the mSATA SSDs as their caching drives. But, let’s reveal in this article, whether an mSATA SSD really worth it or not.

So today we are going to know what does these SSDs have on offer. For a lot of people, when they see this kind of an SSD, they instantly think of super fast, super small form factor SSDs. But when it comes to the PC industry, mSATA and M.2 are two completely different standards.

What is mSATA?

mSATA or Mini-SATA is a motherboard interface used to connect a specific type of device to the system. This interface obeys the SATA interface specifications but has a different form factor. The mSATA devices and the form-factor is very smaller than the ordinary SATA form factor.

In order to connect an mSATA device to your motherboard, there is no need for wires. This is the thing that confuses people into believing that mSATA SSD is an M.2 SSD. But, these drives are different from the M.2 devices as well. An mSATA SSD will have a fewer number of pins as compared to an M.2 SSD.

In a nutshell, mSATA is a completely different interface that should never be confused with the M.2, mini-PCIe, or SATA devices.

What does mSATA SSD looks like?

mSATA SSD is wider than a traditional full-size M.2 drive but smaller in length. But, if you compare it with a 2.5″ SATA SSD, mSATA is way smaller than that. The width of any mSATA SSD will be 30mm whereas the length may vary. For example, you can see the image given below.

msata ssd image
msata ssd image

What is the speed of mSATA SSD?

Just like any other interface on your motherboard, the speed of your mSATA SSD will depend on the version. You should consider the versions of both the motherboard and the drive itself. See the table for a better understanding.

mSATA v1.0mSATA v2.0mSATA v3.0mSATA v4.0
6Gb/s10Gb/s16Gb/s32Gb/s
600MB/s1GB/s2GB/s4GB/s
SATA Bus Serial ModePCI 2.0 (2x Lanes)PCIe 3.0 (2x Lanes)PCIe Gen 4.0 (2x Lanes)

Why mSATA versions are important to remember?

Checking the mSATA version of both your motherboard and the device is important. For example, buying and installing an mSATA v3.0 drive on an mSATA v1.0 port is clearly overkill. You will never be able to get more than 600MB/s speed on that port even after your device is capable of giving you around 2GB/s speed.

Another example could be when you install an mSATA v1.0 SSD on an mSATA v3.0 port. This can again bottleneck your system because the drive is not made to give more than 600MB/s. So, before buying an mSATA SSD, consider checking the availability of the mSATA port on your laptop and desktop along with its version.

In order to check the mSATA version of your motherboard, make sure to read what is written along with your port. Else, you can use free software like Speccy to check the mSATA version pretty easily. Lastly, you can get in touch with your computer manufacturer to know more about the versions.

Difference between mSATA and mini-PCIe?

Both mSATA and mini-PCIe will have same configurations. But, the uses of both these ports could be different. The mPCIe port can be used for expansion cards including Network cards or Wi-Fi cards etc. However, the mSATA ports are used to connect the storage devices.

The mSATA SSD, when connected to a mini PCIe slot, will only work if the port is connected to the SATA host controller.

On the other hand, some mSATA slots on your motherboard will be made just for the mSATA SSDs. So, if you install any mini-PCIe device there, it may not work.

So, you will have to confirm the proper configurations of your port and then pick the right device for you.

Should you buy an mSATA SSD? A comparison

There three form factors are very popular in the PC industry. But, mSATA is clearly a little bit different and rare form factor. Very few laptops and desktop motherboards come with this port. If there are ports, you will see Wi-Fi cards and various other components attached there.

So, in my opinion, you should go for an mSATA SSD only if you have no other option remained to choose the SATA or NVMe M.2 SSD. The mSATA SSDs are expensive as compared to the SATA 2.5″ SSD but you get no additional benefits except their smaller size.

If we compare an mSATA SSD with the M.2 NVMe SSD, they are way slower because you will rarely see any mSATA v3.0 SSD out there. However, buying an NVMe SSD is very easy. So, if your system support the NVMe, you should never choose the mSATA. Instead, go for a normal SATA drive.

Who should buy an mSATA SSD?

As I discussed earlier, you should buy an mSATA SSD only when you have no option left. The mSATA SSD is compact and easy to install but there is no speed difference unless you are able to find one with the latest PCIe version. Also, if your motherboard has a port for mSATA, it will be of version 1 or 2. So, the speed of this drive will never go beyond 1GB/s.

Also Read: Top 5 Best mSATA SSDs to buy in 2021

Final Verdict

I hope I was able to convey my message to your regarding the mSATA SSD. If you have any other question or query, feel free to get in touch with me.